CAIRO — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday sacked Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the general prosecutor, to try to appease protesters demanding the retrial of officials they say were involved in orchestrating violence against them during last year’s uprising.
Morsi tried to remove Mahmoud in October to calm protesters furious over the acquittal of a number of senior state officials who had stood trial over the issue but was forced to keep him in place after judges protested.
Talat Abdullah was appointed the new general prosecutor. “The public prosecutor general will occupy his post for a period of four years,” said Yasser Ali, a presidential spokesperson.
“The public general prosecutor is to be appointed from among members of the judiciary authority by the president for a period of four years,” said Yasser Ali in a statement aired live on state TV.
Ali said the new decree applies immediately, thereby forcing the current prosecutor from his post. Mahmoud had been public prosecutor for many years.
Also Thursday, Morsi issued a decree that protects an assembly writing the country’s new constitution from dissolution and gives it extra time to finish its work.
The new constitution is a fundamental component of the transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous nation but its drafting has been plagued by disputes, mainly pitting Islamists against their secular-minded critics.
The decree read on state television by Ali stipulated that neither the assembly or the upper house of parliament, or Shura council, could be dissolved by the judiciary.
“No judicial authority can dissolve Shura council or constitutional assembly,” the spokesperson said, reading the text of the decree. Plaintiffs critical of Islamist influence in the assembly have raised legal challenges to its legitimacy.
The decree also gave the constitutional assembly an additional two months to complete its work, meaning the drafting process could go on until February.
The constitution must be put to a popular referendum before it is approved. Once it is passed, Egypt is to hold elections to pick a new parliament. The previous assembly was dissolved in June.